Gift of Giving
It always sounds a little weird for me to say, but I employ a maid. It’s pretty much the norm here in Vietnam, but it’s the first time in my life that I’ve had hired help. Hien comes to my house two days a week. She helps me keep things tidy, does my laundry and occasionally my grocery shopping. Even though I am a single gal and not particularly messy, my work schedule doesn’t really allow me the time to do these things. I have only Sundays off, and the last thing I want to do on my one day of rest is laundry! I’m super grateful for Hien’s help.
In my first apartment (the one that leaked really bad), she came to my house just once per week and I paid her 500,000 VN Dong per month. When I moved to my current home, I increased her salary to 750,000 VN Dong, as she could come twice a week, for a bit more than half a day’s work. I moved one year ago, and while I did give her a 13 month salary bonus for TET in February, Hien brought up the topic of providing her with a raise.
I knew before we negotiated that I would give her a raise, but I wanted to help her understand, too, that I am not made of money and that while I appreciate her services, having her help is a luxury for me. I could do these things for myself, I just choose to have her assistance. I also explained to her that if I gave her a raise, I hoped that she could think ahead (always a challenge in this country!) and make sure there was always milk in the fridge and that the bed sheets just get automatically washed on Friday. I usually leave her notes, but I’m a creature of habit, so there are some things I like to have done, which should be common knowledge by now.
She understood that with the raise, it meant just a wee bit more initiative on her part. I asked her how much more she wanted. She requested only 100,000 or 150,000 VND more. So I told her that I would be generous and would help her out a bit and give her now 1,000,000 VND per month. This is about $13 USD more than she makes now, and a total of about/just over $50 per month, depending on the exchange rate. You would have thought I actually was giving her hundreds of dollars more. She was so happy and promised that she would never ask for a raise again.
I wanted to make sure that Hien knew that I valued and appreciated her. Even though her job has not become more difficult or she’s working longer hours, it felt good to give her a raise. It was the right thing to do.